Eldritch Fighters casting spells

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Eldritch Fighters casting spells

Postby jesuslovedhumor » Sat Jul 29, 2017 7:11 pm

So, I am getting my kids (5 & 3) into DND and my son wants to play the eldritch fighter (not there yet, since I'll be starting them at level 1 of course). But, he also wants to have the two weapon fighting style. Which led me to an interesting quandary that I had not thought of before.

How do the eldritch knights casts spells? In other words do they need the material and somatic elements? Do they need one hand free? Or do we assume that they have been practicing casting spells while using their style of fighting or their style of fighting has become so natural, and sense their weapon should be like an extension of their arm, that their hold of a shield or an extra weapon makes no difference?

Since he is 5 and it is only to get them hooked and understanding the game if he wants to keep both it's not really worth the hassle for him, but if one of my regular campaigns were to have this question arise I would love to have your feedback.
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Re: Eldritch Fighters casting spells

Postby JadedDM » Sat Jul 29, 2017 9:41 pm

According to the PHB, in chapter 10, it states, "When a character casts any spell, the same basic rules are followed, regardless of the character’s class or the spell’s effects."

Under that, where it discusses components, it says, "If a spell requires a somatic component, the caster must have free use of at least one hand to perform these gestures." It also says under material components, "A spellcaster must have a hand free to access these components, but it can be the same hand that he or she uses to perform somatic components."

So taking that altogether, it sounds like an eldritch knight could cast a spell while dual-wielding weapons, but only if it doesn't have either a somatic or a material component (or both).

On the other hand, you might be able to make an argument otherwise. Under the section for Eldritch Knights, it says, "Eldritch Knights use magical techniques similar to those practiced by wizards." Similar, but not identical. So there may be some differences after all, although the text does not elaborate at all on what differences there might be.
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Re: Eldritch Fighters casting spells

Postby jesuslovedhumor » Sat Jul 29, 2017 9:58 pm

On the other hand, you might be able to make an argument otherwise. Under the section for Eldritch Knights, it says, "Eldritch Knights use magical techniques similar to those practiced by wizards." Similar, but not identical. So there may be some differences after all, although the text does not elaborate at all on what differences there might be.


That is exactly where I am. It says similar, but how similar. I know that IF I were to call the WotC helpline I would essentially get "5e is meant to be less rules centered and more experience driven, so if you want to allow it go ahead." Which on one hand it's helpful, I would not have been told no you absolutely cannot do that, but on the other hand completely useless.

I know that I'd allow it for my :newb: 5 y/o, but not sure where I would fall if an experienced player wanted to (Though I admit I am leaning towards giving it a thumbs up :up: ). I want to hear from my community :greet: , if you were DMing and a player suggested this to you what is your response? And why.
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Re: Eldritch Fighters casting spells

Postby JadedDM » Sat Jul 29, 2017 10:28 pm

Well, I haven't DM'd 5E yet (although I plan to eventually, once I learn it better). I am playing a 2nd level fighter in a 5E Dragonlance game, but I'm not sure what direction I'll take him. So I don't have much experience to go on.

So if it were me, I'd probably allow it and see how it works out. If it turns out to make the class overpowered, I just wouldn't allow it anymore in the future. That's normally my procedure when a player asks to do something and I have no idea if it will unbalance things or not. Best way to find out is give it a try, right?
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Re: Eldritch Fighters casting spells

Postby lanir » Wed Aug 02, 2017 8:28 am

I don't run 5e but I play here and there. It's one of the go-to games for some of the people I play with when they feel like running. Sorry this is a bit wordy, I took a generalized approach so the explanations were longer. I think I'd allow it but I'd probably do it as an experiment first.

When I decide stuff like this I do it by first looking at what the rules seem to suggest. Second I look at game balance. Third is how it affects the play experience. And then if nothing else really suggests a problem, the preferences of the player. And lastly I try to throw in some in-game stuff to help explain what's going on, especially if I'm still experimenting. I don't literally do all of this step by step but deconstructing my thought process, this is roughly what it looks like.

This is how that applies here:

1. Rules: Sounds like the rules are indicating a free hand is required. The magic rules are more specific about what's going on than the fighter quote.
2. Game Balance: It's questionable. I don't think the Eldritch Knight path is supposed to cost you anything other than the opportunity to play with the toys the other paths give. So game balance would suggest allowing it is fine.
3. Play Experience: This can be pretty subjective. Would requiring one hand free make the game challenging in an interesting way for the player? Would it create situations that lead to fun play? Or is it just a random hindrance that doesn't really add anything to the play experience? The answer can change with the person.
4. Player Desires: Sounds like they want it.
5. In-Game: Perhaps your fighter runs across some very old martial scrolls transcribing the teachings of Hrothkul the Mad. They require very careful handling to keep from crumbling. They're somewhat magical so the words can be copied but not the effect. They contradict themselves and are quite confusing, but reading them allows the character to cast spells without a free hand. It's a very alien way of thinking however, so it only stays with the character for a day (or between rests or whatever). Eventually you can have the scrolls crumble until only a few useful passages are left, ending the experiment. Or0 if you decide this works for your game, your PC can eventually absorb the technique enough to use and teach it freely.

The only caveat I can add is it's easier to give people things than to take them away in a game. That's why #5 is laid out that way and why at the end you try to leave them with a few charges of it rather than take it away entirely. It nudges them towards thinking "When should I use this?" rather than "Why don't I have this option anymore?"
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Re: Eldritch Fighters casting spells

Postby Lyrwik » Thu Aug 03, 2017 3:10 am

I think the rules are actually pretty clear that a free hand is required. However, the rules also provide for a way of overcoming that restriction, so everyone wins!

Requirement for a free hand
On p75 of the PHB it refers to Chapter 10 for the general rules of spellcasting. As JadedDM noted, If we refer to p203 in chapter 10, it says that ‘If a spell requires a somatic component, the caster must have free use of at least one hand to perform these gestures.’

Regarding the comment on p74 of the PHB that ‘Eldritch Knights use magical techniques similar to those practiced by wizards’ – I think this just refers to the fact that their spells are arcane, rely on intelligence (like a wizard) and the fact that they use the wizard’s spell list. I think this is just descriptive and see nothing to suggest that it’s actually intending to be an additional ‘rule’ as such.

I find these to be pretty conclusive, but you'll see it further confirmed (and overcome) by the availability of the Warcaster feat.

Warcaster feat
On p170, there is the ‘Warcaster’ feat, which allows the character to ‘perform the somatic components of spells even when you have weapons or a shield in one or both hands’.

I think this should allow you to achieve what you're looking to do (being to allow your kid to have an awesome character who can dual wield while blasting his enemies with fireballs, without any need to houserule.

Hope this helps


EDIT: technically, the warcaster feat only helps with somatic components, not material, so it doesn't quite allow for every spell to be cast while dual wielding, but to houserule that would be a pretty minor change.
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Re: Eldritch Fighters casting spells

Postby jesuslovedhumor » Fri Aug 04, 2017 7:22 am

Thank you all for the wonderful input. Great arguments for both sides.

Again, it is just my 5 y/o playing this character just to get them into D&D, so who knows if he'll keep this character or if it will become forgotten about and go into that void from "Inside Out."

But on to addressing the most recent comments:
I agree that needing to consider game balance and all that jazz is important. Thankfully I am technically giving it a trial run right now to determine whether it is OP or not.

But AGAIN coming back to general rules of spellcasting AND similar to
Lyrwik wrote:
Requirement for a free hand
On p75 of the PHB it refers to Chapter 10 for the general rules of spellcasting. As JadedDM noted, If we refer to p203 in chapter 10, it says that ‘If a spell requires a somatic component, the caster must have free use of at least one hand to perform these gestures.’

Regarding the comment on p74 of the PHB that ‘Eldritch Knights use magical techniques similar to those practiced by wizards’ – I think this just refers to the fact that their spells are arcane, rely on intelligence (like a wizard) and the fact that they use the wizard’s spell list. I think this is just descriptive and see nothing to suggest that it’s actually intending to be an additional ‘rule’ as such.

I find these to be pretty conclusive, but you'll see it further confirmed (and overcome) by the availability of the Warcaster feat.


I agree that technically the general rules for somatic should be observed, but I just thought of another point for the Eldritch Knight.

The Eldritch Knight can only choose Abjuration and Evocation spells (except for like three). But the whole thing really rests on how many of them actually need somatic components, I'll need to go back and see just how many there are later, and just how much the DM (you or another) wants to say the somatic component plays into casting each spell. So if there are only a small number of spells it might not be worth any hassle. My first thought is that different spells require different somatic components.

Lets say for example we look at Shield spell (abjuration), Fireball, Lightning bolt (both Evocation), and Sleep (Enchantment) and pretend for now that they all have somatic components (I'll check later). So Sleep would require detailed hand waving and such since it is an in depth spell. Most evocation spells in my mind, if they need somatic, it is to at least point to where the spell is supposed to go. So IF a character is carrying a heavy trunk with both arms or hanging onto a rope with both hands, they have no way to direct the spell. BUT a DM might want there to be more to the somatic then just pointing, so maybe lightning bolt is make a small zig zag and point; which could be done while letting one hand go of the rope but no real way to do it while carrying the trunk. BUT if the DM wants it to be more then that then maybe letting go of the rope with one hand wouldn't be enough. So obviously even IF we settle on well he has been practicing magic and sword fighting to get to a point where it merges; we should say some spells can't be done (Sleep and other enchantment spells) without one hand free. The DM might decide that neither a normal spellcaster or fighter can use their sword like a wand for some spells, since that would be a perk of choosing Eldritch Knight over simple multiclassing. I would allow some spells to have simple somatic, like fireball being just point and using the sword to draw the zig zag and point for lightning bolt or do the draw the basic shield outline, and decide what other spells would require a free hand to cast.
So just like the WotC help desk I come back to DM comfort level. I think IF you play strictly BTB, then unless they take Warcaster they need to have a freehand. But I think if you allow wiggle room then maybe the two weapon wielding Eldritch Knight can live.

Lyrwik wrote:
Warcaster feat
On p170, there is the ‘Warcaster’ feat, which allows the character to ‘perform the somatic components of spells even when you have weapons or a shield in one or both hands’.

I think this should allow you to achieve what you're looking to do (being to allow your kid to have an awesome character who can dual wield while blasting his enemies with fireballs, without any need to houserule.

I'll definitely have my son take this feat if Smee the two handed fighter sticks around to become and Eldritch Knight :mage :knight: .

P.S. if you have a Artificer in the party or a DM that wants to set a price. What about a sword with a small compartment in the grip and hilt of it that can house spell materials?
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Re: Eldritch Fighters casting spells

Postby Lyrwik » Fri Aug 04, 2017 8:24 am

jesuslovedhumor wrote:The Eldritch Knight can only choose Abjuration and Evocation spells (except for like three). But the whole thing really rests on how many of them actually need somatic components, I'll need to go back and see just how many there are later, and just how much the DM (you or another) wants to say the somatic component plays into casting each spell. So if there are only a small number of spells it might not be worth any hassle. My first thought is that different spells require different somatic components.


That's true. At a quick glance through the book, I'd say that around 80-90% of spells have both a verbal and somatic component. However, there are some which have only verbal (and even a few which have only somatic). I haven't gone through in enough detail to work out whether the ones that are only verbal are the ones that are most relevant here though (ie abjuration or evocation). Maybe there's enough that it solves the issue, at least from that practical standpoint.

Another thing to think about is that the question of material components limiting casting, even with the warcaster feat, is also really only relevant for combat spells. At a glance through, most of the spells that require material components are more utility-based rather than mid-combat spells.

jesuslovedhumor wrote:Lets say for example we look at Shield spell (abjuration), Fireball, Lightning bolt (both Evocation), and Sleep (Enchantment) and pretend for now that they all have somatic components (I'll check later). So Sleep would require detailed hand waving and such since it is an in depth spell. Most evocation spells in my mind, if they need somatic, it is to at least point to where the spell is supposed to go. So IF a character is carrying a heavy trunk with both arms or hanging onto a rope with both hands, they have no way to direct the spell. BUT a DM might want there to be more to the somatic then just pointing, so maybe lightning bolt is make a small zig zag and point; which could be done while letting one hand go of the rope but no real way to do it while carrying the trunk. BUT if the DM wants it to be more then that then maybe letting go of the rope with one hand wouldn't be enough. So obviously even IF we settle on well he has been practicing magic and sword fighting to get to a point where it merges; we should say some spells can't be done (Sleep and other enchantment spells) without one hand free. The DM might decide that neither a normal spellcaster or fighter can use their sword like a wand for some spells, since that would be a perk of choosing Eldritch Knight over simple multiclassing. I would allow some spells to have simple somatic, like fireball being just point and using the sword to draw the zig zag and point for lightning bolt or do the draw the basic shield outline, and decide what other spells would require a free hand to cast.


I like where you're going from a descriptive point of view, however I think that this could become rather cumbersome to keep track of, as it's essentially introducing sub-categories of somatic components, thus adding extra complexity and more small details to remember. It would also require houseruling pretty much every spell, as there are very few which have enough description to give a good indication of whether they should reasonably require just one hand, two hands, or whether the somatic components can still be performed while holding something.

However, if you do come up with some descriptions of the required somatic components for spells, I'd be really keen to see (and steal them)!


Some extra thoughts:
Regarding the the potential for a balance issue, I personally doubt there would be one, as the player has still has plenty of options for how to create an 'optimised' character if they wish to (something which I personally avoid doing when I'm a player, but I know many who do). The reason I take this view, is that if you play an eldritch knight, and choose to take dual wielding or great weapons, (and assumably also take warcaster), you are essentially just deciding that you want to focus on (combat) spells that don't have a material component. If that result in your character being slightly 'weaker' due to the (slightly) more limited spell choices, that's not indicative of it being unbalanced, it just indicates that the player made a choice to build their character in a way that's more interesting than just trying to find the most 'optimised' build.

Alternatively, there are other fighting styles (and more generally, character builds) which wouldn't restrict the use of spells. For example:
- take the dueling fighting style, keep the other hand free (all you're really missing out on is shield AC of 2) and you can cast all of your spells without needing the warcaster feat
- take the archery fighting style, and go for a ranged/dex-based fighter. When not firing a bow, it can be held in one hand, leaving the other free for magic, and no requirement for warcaster feat
- use a versatile weapon, such as a long sword, allowing you to use two hands for the extra damage when you're not casting, but also retaining the option to have a free hand to cast when you wish to. Could even take the great weapon fighting style, to benefit when attacking with both hands (since when holding it one handed, you'll be casting a spell). Alternatively, take the defense fighting style for the extra AC to compensate for the lack of shield.
There are probably other ways to still create an 'optimised' build, which I haven't thought of, but this is just really just to support my (somewhat long-winded and rant-like) suggestion that I don't think there would really be any balance issue.

However, I acknowledge that while I've DM'ed and played a fair bit of 5th ed, I'm yet to see an eldritch knight in play, so I'll be interested to see what you find in practice :)


Also - to clarify, this all really just relates to my thoughts for how I'd go in a game with adults. For a game with kids, I'd probably be much more flexible (in the same way that you seem to be going), because I'd much rather see the kids come up with a cool character and just have fun with it.
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Re: Eldritch Fighters casting spells

Postby jesuslovedhumor » Wed Aug 16, 2017 4:56 pm

BTW on Tuesday I played with the kids for the first time. I'll mention it here in a bit, but I am also going to post a similar thread in a different part of the forums about introducing kids (yours and others) to DND
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